Scott McPherson – December 2, 2017
At its root, gun control is an elitist policy. One group of people decides that by virtue of birth, social status, economic status, or political persuasion, they should control the ownership of firearms. The framers of our Constitution explicitly rejected that notion, lauding instead the value of an armed populace. To protect the right to keep and bear arms, the Second Amendment was ratified in 1791.
A state representative and congressional candidate from Ohio, Christina Hagan, is running a campaign ad calling out the elite for their gun-control agenda. “Guns have been a part of our family forever,” Hagan says in the ad. “These guns defend my home, my family, my baby.” But now, “California and New York elites are coming for our guns.”
Hagan is right. Elites aren’t comfortable with commoners owning guns. Former New York City mayor (and billionaire) Michael Bloomberg is a perfect example of gun-controllers’ elitism. Last month he committed to matching donations to the anti-gun group Everytown for Gun Safety up to $25 million, to promote gun-control legislation. He sleeps at night in a virtual palace, protected every hour by armed guards.
Elites are even less comfortable when commoners use guns, in defense of themselves and others. On NBC’s Today former vice president Joe Biden, who is guarded around the clock by Secret Service agents, was asked specifically about Stephen Willeford’s use of an AR-15 rifle to stop a madman who killed twenty-six people in a Texas church. Biden didn’t even acknowledge Willeford’s competence, presence of mind, and incredible heroism on that tragic day, offering dismissively, “Well, first of all, the kind of gun being carried he shouldn’t be carrying.”
Biden’s beef with the AR-15 in particular shows his elitism and his ignorance. The Framers wanted ordinary citizens to be armed like soldiers. The AR-15 is the civilian version of the rifle used by US infantrymen. Willeford likely chose that weapon on purpose; it’s very accurate and accepts what gun-control zealots refer to pejoratively as a “high-capacity magazine.” He was absolutely carrying the right gun.
Armed citizens regularly stop trouble, somewhere between 800,000 and two million times per year, in ninety-nine percent of cases without even firing a shot. Elitists brush aside the valuable crime-fighting role they play, often suggesting that under real pressure a gun-toting civilian will just “make the situation worse.” That isn’t what happened in Texas. And in the last several years many good guys have taken out bad guys without injury to themselves or innocent bystanders.
Armed citizens also restore and maintain order on a larger scale. When servicemen returned to Athens, Tennessee, after the Second World War, they found a corrupt machine running their town. Taking military rifles (and explosives) from a National Guard armory, they fought a gun battle with the police, forcing their surrender and restoring integrity to the local election process. In 1964 black men in Louisiana and Mississippi formed a paramilitary organization called the Deacons for Defense. The Deacons boasted (probably exaggerated) about their arsenal; their gun battles with the KKK however were real, as were the armed men who protected civil rights activists and marches.
After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, many refused to leave the city, staying behind to protect their homes and property. Armed citizens, one with an AK-47 rifle, watched over the Algiers Point neighborhood, exchanging gunfire with a gang of looters. More recently, rioting in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014 brought armed volunteers to the city, who took up defensive positions with their military-style rifles to keep the peace and protect local businesses.
This article was originally published at FFF.org. Scott McPherson is a policy adviser at the Future of Freedom Foundation, and author of Freedom and Security: The Second Amendment and the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.